While many handicappers start their handicapping with the horses in a race, some people work backward starting with the riders. All riders and all races are not alike. Specialization may not seem to have found it’s way into the local jockey colony at your favorite race track, but a closer look at the statistics may convince you that some riders are more adept at winning on the grass.
While the average horse player may not be aware that some jocks are head and shoulders above their fellow riders you can be sure that many trainers do know that certain riders have a special talent for rating horses and winning races on the turf. The same rider who may be an ace at hustling a horse to the lead and winning on the dirt may not be able to win with horses that close from off the pace, which is how many races are won on t he turf.
Some people think that early speed is favorable in short turf sprints, but looking closely at the statistics, you will find that many race tracks that card short turf sprints actually favor horses that run off the pace. The best rider to pilot a horse to the winner’s circle at those venues is the rider who can accurately gauge the distance to the finish line and have his or her mount within striking distance at the top of the homestretch.
The best ways to find such riders is to consult the statistics in depth or to actually watch a lot of those races and to note which riders seem to display that talent. You will also begin to note jockey and trainer teams who seem to win a high percentage of races on the turf. It is only natural, after all, that trainers who are good at conditioning horses to win on the grass also attract the best turf jockeys.
Therefore, once you have your list of turf jockeys and trainers, when you start to handicap a horse race, you may scan the riders and connections of the horses first and if you find someone from your list riding or training in that race, they will be your first consideration. Naturally, you still have to check the horse out, but knowing that the connections are very competent may help you to decide which horse to back even if it doesn’t appear to be the best at first.